User friendly an attribute not well defined


The information and services available on the internet are increasing at an astounding rate. At the same time the ease of accessing the internet is constantly improving as infrastructure expands and mobile devices offer better access. Where will it all end?

The answer, of course, is that it will never end. It will only be replaced by smaller, faster and more capable devices and services as technology marches forward.

In our 2007 membership survey we asked members about their use of the internet. Not surprisingly the number of members with access to the internet increased from our 2002 survey (84 per cent to 91 per cent). Of course this doesn’t mean that 91 per cent of members are compulsive surfers.

We also asked how many times per month members use the internet to browse websites. Almost 80 per cent indicated they did so more than five times per month. About nine per cent indicated they visit the COPA website more than five times per month. On the surface it looks as if the COPA website is not being well used by members.

The majority of members surveyed felt the COPA website was very useful but the response was fairly evenly dispersed over the three to five out of five ratings. This indicates there is room for improvement.

Content and update frequency are keys to the usefulness of most websites and the more useful it is the more often people will visit the website. Sites which contain large quantities of pertinent information in a well organized format will receive lots of repeat visits.

Sites which have a news area will also be visited frequently provided the news is updated regularly and is again pertinent to the target audience. Both of these services will also bring people to the site through the search engines.

"User friendly" is an attribute that is not well defined. The term means something completely different to a high time web user than a novice surfer. I often get frustrated trying to find something on a company’s site and resort to Google, which not only finds what I want from that company but offers me alternative sites as well.

What really amazes me is that often the site I’m getting frustrated with belongs to a company in the computer or internet business. This may result when the website designer does not fully understand the needs and capabilities of the target user group or it might be simply that the style is no longer current. An older site may not have the same features or style as newer sites that users are familiar with. This will elicit a cry of, "user unfriendly."

Some members have complained that the COPA website needs to be more user friendly. I would agree with this because it uses old styles and as new information and features are added they tend to get lost. Eight years ago when it was last overhauled it was contemporary, but not any more.

When the timely communication and currency of information is as important as it is in aviation there is no better way to handle it than through this modern-day marvel called the World Wide Web.

COPA staff has been working on a redesign of our website for some time now and they are getting very close to a launch. So watch for the new site to appear on your screen in the very near future.

Meanwhile keep you prop spinning.